Sebaceous carcinoma of the eyelids: thirty cases from Japan

Pathol Int. 2008 Aug;58(8):483-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1827.2008.02260.x.


Sebaceous carcinoma of the eyelids is rare in Western countries but not uncommon in Asian countries. Diagnosis is difficult both clinically and histologically. Thirty cases of sebaceous carcinoma of the eyelids treated at Tokyo Medical University Hospital were reviewed to elicit characteristic features of pathological findings. The tumor cells were infiltrating in a lobular pattern that consisted mainly of large atypical germinative cells. Sebocytes seen in the lobules had conspicuous nucleolus associated with perinucleolar halo. In 17 cases (57%) there was foamy histiocyte infiltration in and around the tumor nests. Sebaceous duct differentiation, namely holocrine secretion indicating a specific type of coagulation necrosis maintaining a cellular framework or maintaining a bubbly cytoplasm associated with nuclear debris in the periphery, was seen in 24 cases (80%). Although unequivocal squamous differentiation was limited to only 11 carcinomas, scattered individual necrosis with nuclear debris in the background of germinative cells appeared in 29 cases (96.7%). Expression of epithelial membrane antigen, perilipin and adipophilin were detected in all cases. In conclusion, to detect sebaceous differentiation in sebaceous carcinoma, it would be helpful to focus on holocrine secretion, squamous differentiation and foamy macrophage infiltration, and to utilize immunohistochemistry involving anti-perilipin and anti-adipophilin stain.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / chemistry
  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / surgery
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cell Nucleolus / pathology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Cytoplasm / pathology
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • Foam Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucin-1 / analysis
  • Necrosis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Perilipin-1
  • Perilipin-2
  • Phosphoproteins / analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mucin-1
  • PLIN2 protein, human
  • Perilipin-1
  • Perilipin-2
  • Phosphoproteins